CSTPR Noontime Seminar
Climate change scientists as policy advocates?: Navigating the tensions between scientific independence, poor policy, and avoiding a dangerous world
by Lydia Messling, Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholar, University of Reading
This talk will be available via webcast here.
Lydia Messling's research is exploring how climate change researchers should engage in advocacy, if at all, when communicating with policy makers and the lay public. The work she does is interdisciplinary (borrowing from political theory, social science, ethics, psychology and sometimes a few others) and combines political theory with empirical qualitative research. In this talk, Lydia will set out where she thinks the key tensions lie when climate change scientists communicate with other non-experts through the lens of different communication roles that they can take. She will also share some of the early findings from her empirical research where scientists have described practical ways in which they navigate and manage those tensions.
Lydia is a Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholar in Climate Justice, and is based at the University of Reading, U.K. Her research is exploring how climate change researchers should engage in advocacy, if at all, when communicating with policy makers and the lay public. Lydia's project uses both political theory and empirical research to examine the frames and methods of communication that researchers use to explain their findings to non-experts, and how they navigate communicating uncertainties whilst providing useful information for policy makers. It is widely valued that science should be politically neutral, independent and objective. Advocacy has the potential to undermine public trust and damage the scientific integrity of scientists' work by being at odds with these values. However climate change is an issue that requires urgent action. The stakes are high, the risks and uncertainties are difficult to comprehend, and advocacy for coordinated social action is vital. But should climate change researchers engage in this advocacy? Or is this outside of their remit?